Information on Second Midterm Exam
American Studies 1A, Fall 2008 (Connelly, Daly, Georges)
DO NOT MARK ON THIS SHEET IN ANY WAY! NO NAME, NO MARKS OF ANY KIND INSIDE OR OUT. BRING THIS SHEET TO THE EXAM ALONG WITH TWO COMPLETELY BLANK LARGE BLUE BOOKS AND TWO PENS (OR PENCILS).
Three questions are printed below. Although only two will be randomly selected for you to write on during the exam period, you must prepare answers for all three.
Date: Thursday, November 6. Time: noon. Location: lecture hall.
> No books, notes, electronic devices, etc., just exam booklets, pens, this sheet.
> Exam ends at precisely 1:15—no extra time for anyone.
> Please write in pen or pencil, using only one side of each page.
> We may assign or re-assign seating before or during the exam.
> No seminar meetings after the exam.
1) Slavery generated heated controversy in antebellum America, prompting contemporary writers and critics to address the subject from a variety of perspectives and in a variety of cultural forms. Write an essay which analyzes three of the following four antebellum depictions/discussions of slavery: David Walker’s “Appeal” (1829), George L. Aiken’s dramatization of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), Melville’s Benito Cereno (1856), and Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). The essay must have a unifying theme or argument, and it must consider how the text’s form (essay, play, short fiction, autobiography) affects its content. The latter will involve examining literary elements such as setting, character, theme, language, imagery, audience, etc.
2) Many of the works we have studied take up the issue of national identity, attempting to answer the question of what America and Americans are or ought to be. Choose three text we’ve read since the last midterm, explain how they represent American identity, and using specific examples demonstrate how those representations influence or characterize contemporary notions of the nation.
3) Subversion has been a recurring theme in our study of the Early American Republic. The verb “subvert” (Latin: subvertere / sub – from below; vertere – to turn) is defined as the attempt to undermine the power and authority of an established system or institution. Often, those who make such attempts do so because they feel deprived of power and civil or human rights. Therefore, in contrast to the ways in which the political and cultural elite exercise power “from above,” they find ways to exercise power “from below.”
Craft an essay that includes the following elements:
1) A substantial presentation of three examples of subversive activity evident in the Early Republic/antebellum period, respectively featuring Euro-Americans, African Americans, and women.
[NOTE: each example must incorporate available and pertinent material from a primary source, the Norton, and/or a lecture.]
2) Your own conclusive assessment of the role that subversion plays in effecting historical change.